Jul. 15—MARIETTA — In a befitting tribute to Chuck Smith, a fallen Cobb County officer, the community showed up to send him off in grand fashion.
On Friday, the Cobb County Police Department partnered with Cobb County School District Police Department to host an End of Watch Ride to Remember in honor of Smith, who died of COVID-19 at the age of 57 last fall.
The End of Watch Ride, put on by Beyond the Call of Duty, an organization that pays proper tribute to fallen officers, is a journey stretching 18,000 miles across America, stopping in various communities where fallen officers have served during the year. The tour pays tribute to those who lost their lives while on active duty.
"I wanted to make sure that we never forget anyone who died in the line of duty," said Jagrut Shaw, founder of Beyond the Call of Duty and the End of Watch Ride. "We want to work closely and keep on growing it and help communities like this."
Dozens of fellows officers and members of the community showed up Friday to the Cobb County Civic Center in order to pay their respects to Smith. Beside one of the trailers, the Smith family unveiled a memorial in his honor that will ride with the End of Watch tour.
Throughout his career, Charles Smith worked for 25 years with the Cobb County Police Department, before retiring and spending his last two years with the Cobb County School District.
Smith was an officer stationed at Osborne High School at the time of his passing. Cobb police conducted contact tracing and studied weeks of surveillance footage from Osborne to determine that Smith likely contracted COVID-19 at work, which means his death can be classified as dying in the line of duty.
Described as someone not satisfied by sitting in an office, Smith sought to connect with Osborne students and help change their lives for the better.
"Kids at the high school level are usually hard to get through to if you're a police officer," said Sgt. Tom Arnold of the Cobb schools police. "Chuck was determined to make sure they knew not only who he was, but that he was there for them."
During the initial visitation following his death, countless administrators, parents and students approached Kim Smith, the late officer's widow, to let her know how much her husband contributed.
"They all came and would say to me how they'll never be the same because of my husband," Kim Smith said. "He didn't know the impact that he had; I think a lot of officers fail to see the impact they leave."
Smith's impact on the students he worked with can continue to be felt after his passing, especially with the news that the Smith family started a scholarship. Started in 2021, aptly named "Love like Chuck," the award is given each year to a student that exemplifies the compassion and care that Smith showed everyone.
"Chuck was the police officer that every supervisor would want and every beat cop would want to be partnered with," Arnold said. "He was about as close to perfect a person as you could be."